Tackling poor living conditions in the Nairobi slums

By | May 2, 2015

The Social Economy in Higher Education international project seeks to encourage universities to question what they teach and whether they are teaching a range of relevant economic models for students to engage with. The School of Finance and Economic at Strathmore University in Kenya shows clear commitment to addressing complex social issues in its community.

Interview with the Dean of School of Finance and Economics, Dr John Olukuru and Mercy Kano, Lecturer in the School of Finance and Economics.

Stathmore2Strathmore University is committed to addressing social issues and, as a leading business school in Kenya, sees its role as reaching out to poorer communities. One such community is Mukuru slum in Nairobi where they set out to find solutions for residents regarding regularisation of land tenure, improved housing, infrastructure, sanitation and access to basic services. Funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a Canadian organisation, they were able to collect data via questionnaires and a series of key informant interviews while enlisting the help of two research assistants who assisted with data analysis and interviewing.

Working in Mukuru, they focused on understanding the dynamics of land tenure and service delivery in the slum and went further to explore innovative financial tools and models to improve the situation in the slum. The research was jointly undertaken in collaboration with University of Nairobi, Katiba Institute and Akiba Mashinani Trust.

The research revealed that in fact there is a great deal of money to be earned in the slums and some business people there do better than some in the city centre. Renting out small one-roomed structures for people paying 2000 shillings adds up if you have 20 or more. There may well be little incentive for the property owners to replace the dwellings with modern houses as their income might drop with fewer dwellings. The university is committed to finding business solutions to these social problems.

Further detail on the plight of the slum dwellers is to be found at http://www.strathmore.edu/en/media-center/402/54/Strathmore-Participates-in-Research-on-Justice-and-Basic-Services-in-Informal-Settlements